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A Bit of a Situation
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November 25th, 1889 — Past Midnight, Slytherin Common Room
@Constance Sykes

There were few people that Holly was fond of, and even fewer people that she trusted. Thirteen was a very precarious age; she could not deny that her body was changing, for both the better and the worse, as well as a sea of emotional changes that frequently sent her to the brink of an emotional breakdown.

Fortunately, every single emotion apart from anger had been neatly compacted into her heart, away from the prying eyes of her peers and anyone else who wished to expose her as a real human being who had real human emotions. There was only one person who has seen her in the pit of despair and hopelessness, and it was that person who she scrambled out of bed to find when faced with her... predicament.

"Madam Sykes," she whined quietly as she rapped on the door to the matron's bedchamber and office, all the while struggling to hold a clean sheet around her nightdress. There was a silly, irrational part of her brain that told her she was dying, and although she tried to push that thought from her mind, she struggled to find any other explanation for the copious amount of blood that soaked her dress and her bed.

Tears began to flow freely after thirty seconds of waiting without any response.

"Madam Sykes, it's Holly. Please open up. I-I think I'm—"

The door opened then, leaving Holly standing there, eyes wide and full of tears, her mouth pressed into the tightest, most uncomfortable frown to ever touch her face.



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Being awoken in the middle of the night was not uncommon but it never ceased to make Connie’s heart race painfully in her chest with worry. She had never had to deal with anything truly terrible – for which she was increasingly grateful with each year that passed without incident – but there was always the terror of what if. There was also the possibility, however slight and certainly enough to get the heart racing, that it was somebody quite a bit more grown up and someone Connie would dearly love to bother her while she was in her nightclothes.

She grabbed her wand to light the tapers around the room with a single flick and opened the door to the dormitory, blinking only once at the sight before her. She had been expecting this: the girl, the sheet, the panic that came from a disastrous lack of preparation on the part of any adult in the young girl’s life. She had not, however, expected the tears.

“Inside,” Connie said softly, ushering her not-so-secret favourite pupil inside her chambers with a warm hand on her shoulder. Merlin, the poor girl was frozen! Silently cursing the dungeons she had lived in for a significant portion of her own life Connie flicked her wand to light a fire in the grate, perhaps not as nearly as the elves would do but it was serviceable. “Come and sit down Holly, tell me what’s wrong,” she added, despite being quite sure. It was best to check though, just in case she was way off the mark and began explaining something that she would have much preferred to tell all of the girls about before it happened and gave them all the scare of their lives.
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   Holly Scrimgeour


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Holly hastily wiped the tears from her cheeks as she was ushered through the threshold. Her heart was beating in a way that it had never before, not even when learning that her sister passed, or that her father had remarried, or—worst of all—that she'd been given a baby brother. No, this was much, much worse than all of that.

Holly remained standing despite being offered a seat, her cheeks burning red at the thought of staining Madam Syke's cushions. She did not dare drop the sheet from around her waist; in fact, she clutched it tighter, using it as a security blanket as much as a means to hide her bleeding.

"I must confess, Madam Sykes, that I am not the perfect girl," she began. How could she possibly deliver this heavy blow to the woman who had become something of a surrogate mother to her, even if she'd never spoken such a thought aloud? She quivered at the image of poor Madam Sykes leaning over her body as she bled out. "I am not the most careful with my magical practice, and I have been known to sneak chocolates from dinner back to my dormitory, but I have done nothing dangerous nor eaten so horribly to cause this situation. I'm sorry to say, Madam Sykes," she said as she wiped another tear and tried to muster all her courage. "but I fear I am bleeding to death."

That sounded stupid.

"Well, I don't feel like I'm dying. I always imagined death—especially in this manner—would be more agonizing. I thought I would slowly lose my mind, and then my voice, and then my eyesight, but I insist that my mind and voice and eyes are perfectly clear. It's just... I'm just... bleeding. Everywhere. Heavily." And with that, Holly dropped the sheet, and, overcome with discomfort, crossed her arms across her chest.
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   Constance Sykes



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For a brief moment Connie was taken back nearly twenty years to when she had been home again after her Hogwarts years and her younger sister had come to her with precisely the same problem. It had been awful to witness Victoria’s distress but Connie had felt a surge of happiness when she had realised that despite being a witch while the rest of her family was decidedly unmagical her little sister still trusted her enough to knock on her door in the middle of the night.

Connie felt the same surge of happiness now, but resisted the urge to take the girl into her arms as she had done with her sister, despite the urge becoming palpable when Holly began to list her own faults as potential causes of death. Honestly why nobody thought it prudent to let the girls know these things in advance Connie would never know – any misconceptions they had about the girls needing to be protected from knowing what their futures held were obscene in Connie’s book but, she admitted with a pang of shame, she ought to have told Holly.

It was always going to be her anyway. She could have saved Holly this moment.

“Oh my dear girl I am so sorry,” Connie said quietly and with more affection that she would ever admit as she gently placed a hand on Holly’s shoulder, hating the tension she could feel there. She was like a small, skittish animal, trying to retreat into itself but Connie wasn’t about to let her; this was an important moment after all. “You’re not dying,” she gently lifted Holly’s chin up, amused that the girl – she supposed young lady now – wasn’t getting any taller. “ What’s happening is nothing to worry about and I know it’s frightening but if you trust me then please trust that I wouldn’t lie to you. You’re perfectly fine and I will explain everything, I promise, but first thing’s first,” she took a steadying breath and meant to say that they ought to get Holly cleaned up but then another tear trickled down Holly’s face and Connie acted purely on instinct.

“Come here,” she mumbled, wrapping her arms around Holly’s shoulders and pulling her close, one hand resting against the back of her head as she let the girl cry. It was probably against the pureblood code of conduct but Holly clearly needed this.


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#5
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What was first confusion regarding Madam Sykes' calmness in the face of her pupil's death turned to a solemn understanding as Holly came to the conclusion that she was not, in fact, dying. She leaned into the matron's touch, unable to admit even to herself that she craved a warm embrace in a time of stress. Holly rarely needed comfort, and she even less often desired it; it was in this moment, though, that Holly realized that she would have no one to look to if Madam Sykes were to up and disappear.

Holly stood still and stiffly through the matron's reassurances despite the warmth that filled her heart. Although she (apparently) wasn't dying, she knew a small part of her, the part that craved danger and excitement despite herself, would be replaced with fears of dying in a pool of blood. Maybe Camille was right; she hated the thought.

There was no time to worry about blood and her future death in a pool of it, as Madam Sykes took her into a hug and Holly crumbled into a fit of raw emotion. Tears poured down her cheeks and her chest shook in silent sobs. She rarely cried, but this cry felt almost right—almost like she was releasing all the pain and confusion and loneliness that the previous year and a half had brought.

Or maybe she was just being a crybaby. Either way, she couldn't help herself.

Holly pulled back momentarily to wipe a tear and sought Connie's gaze.

"You act like this is normal, but I've never felt anything like this. It's completely abnormal," she complained, unable to wipe the deep frown from her face. "What's happening to me, Madam Sykes?"




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“It most certainly is not abnormal,” Connie assured her, wiping away another stray tear with the pad of her thumb. Crying did not sit well on Holly’s face at all and it distracted her from the task at hand – she had a young lady to educate on what the future would bring for her and that was never a particularly enjoyable task. Inevitably there was confusion and more tears, then when it began to sink in the insistence that it was unfair would begin and Connie would have to pretend she didn’t entirely agree with that assessment.

Some girls did not wish to know more beyond the very basics, already overwhelmed by what they had been told. She very much doubted Holly would be one of those girls.

“Where to begin…”



Twenty minutes later and quite a bit better informed about her newfound reproductive abilities Connie had finally coaxed Holly into sitting in the chair by the fire. She had allowed Holly to use her private bathroom to refresh herself and instructed the house elves to change the bedsheets, add a warming pan to the bed and bring them both hot chocolate.

“Do you have any questions? I know it may be a lot to take in.”


[Image: jGi0wPk.png]
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